This week we conversations across the country turned to a topic we all too often neglect: the folks who have served our country. When we paused to take stock of the state of our veterans this past week, we realized just how much more we owed our nation’s heroes.
The Center for American Progress (CAP), for example, posted a by-the-numbers roundup that sheds light on the myriad difficulties facing our service members.
- 107,000 veterans are homeless on any given night, according to 2009 estimates from the Veterans Administration.
- About one-third of homeless adult Americans are veterans, even though only about one-tenth of all adults are veterans.
- Foreclosure rates in military towns increased at four times the national average in 2008.
The stress that our veterans are under financially no doubt adds to their staggering rate of suicide. As CAP reports, “data from the Department of Veterans Affairs shows that each month there are an average of 950 suicide attempts by veterans under the care of the VA.” NPR also shed light on this tragic trend, citing the more than 120 U.S. Army troops who have killed themselves this year.
Although these statistics are truly appalling, it is important to remember that solutions to veteran homelessness exist. Which is exactly what our President, Nan Roman, pointed out on the Huffington Post yesterday.
Between the Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness and Secretary Shinseki’s pledge to end veteran homelessness in five years, we are well on our way to making a critical improvement in the lives of those who have served our country. We are, as Nan says, in “a unique position to put an end to veteran homelessness.” She concludes, “We cannot allow this opportunity to pass. Homeless veterans, their families, and their communities are counting on us to persevere.”
And persevere we must. It’s always in this season – as the holidays approach – that we pause to show gratitude for the things we have and generosity to people who are not as fortunate. And however inspiring the holiday spirit can be, we remind ourselves that there should be no specific season for kindness and understanding.
Thanks for your time, guys! We’ll check in again next week!